Managers and executives make decisions on a daily basis, and not all bad decision making arises from lack of correct information, or an error in the actual technical process of decision making which would imply incompetence on the part of the executive. Hammond, Keeney, and Raiffa (1989), posit that bad decisions, especially catastrophic ones, can be made by the hidden traps present in our subconscious mind, which influence the decision-making process without the decision maker being aware of it. Awareness of these traps in decision-making and knowing how to avoid them are key towards avoiding bad outcomes in complex decision making processes.
The Hidden Traps
One of the well -known traps is judging distance by a mental process known as heuristics. Our brains correlates clarity of an object with its relative distance from the observer. Object that are hazy are judged to be further away than objects that appear more clear and visible detail. However, heuristics can cause bad decision making on a foggy day where one might misjudge an object’s distance to be greater than it really is, putting one at increased risk while driving, and for airline pilots to inaccurately estimate altitude with potentially catastrophic results. Pilots are trained to rely not only on vision but flight instruments to avoid catastrophic errors (Hammond, Keeney, and Raiffa, 1989).
Another hidden trap described by Hammond, Keeney, and Raiffa (1989) is known as anchoring, where the subconscious mind gives more weightage to information that arrives first and anchors decisions on the information that was obtained first. The problem is relying more than necessary of first impressions, which could be unreliable, or have changed, but the subconscious...
... middle of paper ...
...falls to subconsciously make a poor decision.
The brain makes decisions based on inputs, sensory inputs, or inputs of information and must process and assemble these inputs to come to an objective decision. For complex, open ended business problems, the decision-making process may not result in one singular optimal decision, but a choice of several optimal “good” decisions, and consequently a choice of several sub-optimal “bad” alternative decisions. How the unconscious mind with its biases, and hardwired thinking influences the processing of information, and enables one to come to a creative solution or decision making process is still part of the current research. But using the basic methods outlined by Hammond, Keeney, and Raiffa (1989) can help the business executive avoid the most common hidden psychological traps that prevent one from making good decisions.
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